By Madeline Lloyd
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Whether it's advice from a coach, a rigorous training program or even the weather, athletes are heavily influenced by their surroundings. When these conditions change, it is often difficult to maintain composure and continue competing at the same level. It takes a confident athlete to persevere through these changes and continue developing as a player and an individual.
Brittany OgunMokun, a Landover, Md., senior at Baylor has had to adapt to many changes during the past five years.
The middle distance track and field runner began competing at the college level at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa., where she won the 500-meter run and the 4x400-meter relay at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Indoor Championships.
A year later, she transferred to Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., where she redshirted. In 2011, OgunMokun decided to change her surroundings a final time by enrolling at Baylor.
"Transitioning was hard," OgunMokun said. "I've had three different coaches in five years. Their training styles are different. Even getting adjusted to the weather is something you have to keep in mind."
OgunMokun has experienced a great amount of growth while at Baylor. She has developed substantially as an athlete, earning All-Big 12 honors both indoors and outdoors in the 800-meter run, 4x400-meter relay and the 600-yards.
The Baylor Bear has also matured significantly in her faith.
"Baylor has this spiritual bubble around it," OgunMokun said. "You just gravitate towards it. When I came to Baylor I got really involved in FCA and church. Both have laid the foundation of how I approach school and track."
According to OgunMokun, she knew nothing about Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) before coming to Baylor. FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in the world. The program focuses on serving local communities by encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.
Head coach Todd Harbour also noticed this spiritual development in Brittany.
"Baylor is such a neat place when you want to have an opportunity to grow spiritually," Harbour said. "Brittany was very young in her faith when she came here. But now she's taken on responsibilities, such as bible studies, and she's a mentor to a lot of girls on the team. She is the one who encourages and exhorts. She is always looking for opportunities to minister and to really exercise her faith."
Waco, Texas, junior Katy Cranfill practices and competes with OgunMokun on a regular basis. Cranfill's high level of respect for her teammate shows that OgunMokun exudes patience, willpower and compassion.
"Track and field is such a unique discipline, and it's easy to forget it's a team sport," Cranfill said. "Brittany is a constant reminder that track isn't just an individual sport. It's that support and encouragement that get us to the finish line."
OgunMokun claims her motivation to compete is a result of the team's excitement and spiritual support. The team connects on a deeper level than just athletics; it is one that provides encouragement based on the solidity of faith.
"We don't always have perfect days," Harbour said. "When a teammate has a bad workout or a bad race, you see other teammates go out of their way to do things that a coach can't always do. It's nice to see that strength on your team. It's a group that encourages."
The middle distance runner also believes in the power of perseverance.
"Perseverance allows you to use God to motivate you," OgunMokun said. "If it's in God's will, it will happen. Be patient."
OgunMokun has persevered through three different coaches, various training styles, new teammates and an assortment of competitors. Not only has she welcomed these changes with open arms, but she has also used them to develop her foundation as an individual. She represents a leader, confident in both her athletic abilities and spiritual beliefs.
"Brittany exudes all the characteristics a leader should," Cranfill said. "She's an encourager, a motivator and a friend on and off the track. Brittany demonstrates her love for our sport and our team on a daily basis."
OgunMokun demonstrates how life is a building process. Every new experience teaches a lesson and provides new opportunities for growth. A strong faith and an unyielding desire to succeed can introduce any individual to a new world of possibilities. Don't be afraid to welcome change. Don't be afraid to stray off life's usual track.